Latrobe Football’s Fight for an Impressive Season

During+their+homecoming+game%2C+the+Wildcats+took+on+their+opponents+former+state+champions%2C+Woodland+Hills%2C+on+Friday%2C+October+23.+Although+the+cats+weren%27t+able+to+secure+a+win%2C+the+team+prides+themselves+on+this+game+being+one+of+their+best.

Julia Battaglia

During their homecoming game, the Wildcats took on their opponents former state champions, Woodland Hills, on Friday, October 23. Although the cats weren’t able to secure a win, the team prides themselves on this game being one of their best.

Hannah Klimek, Staff Writer

“Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood to get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall.” This verse of Kenny Chesney’s “The Boys of Fall” replays through the heads of the Greater Latrobe Football Team’s each and everyday. While this driven football team hasn’t always had the best of luck when it comes to the end-of-the-season record, they’ve proven differently this year. Between the determined mindset, skill, and the leadership on and off the field, the Wildcats have finally found a way to be successful together while on the football pitch. Marco Mongelluzzo, a junior cornerback on the defensive line, spent the season covering skilled receivers and defending difficult passes. His talents were a big contribution to the team’s success this season. 

 Marco owes the majority of his team’s success to the team spirit. “The powerful mindset that we were able to maintain throughout the grueling season, and the leadership that was present on and off the field at all times were also big contributors,” said Marco.

Tucker Knupp, a senior tight end, linebacker, and team captain for the Wildcats, is the prime example of a player that is always pumped up and ready to play. Mongelluzzo said, “Tucker is the biggest leader on and off the field.” 

Marco admires the way Knupp’s brain works and how he has a way of words with every person on the team. “He knows how to have a one-on-one conversation with each person on the team in order to set their mindset straight,” said Mongelluzzo. 

While Mongelluzzo and Knupp haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, they’ve become the “closest pair of players on the team” according to Mongelluzo. The two have played together since they were six years old, and have had their ups and downs along the way. When Knupp thought of his leadership role as a captain, he initiated a very meaningful one-on-one conversation that melted issues and created an atmosphere of respect. 

While leadership was the biggest asset to the Cats, Marco also owes a lot of his team’s success to their coaches and the way they work with their team. Mongelluzzo admires how every coach a part of that team “wants the absolute best for every player.” He said,  “The way that the coaches adapt to our playing style helped us tremendously. It made us realize that if we continued to play how we knew how to play, while following their technique, we could do anything.”

The ten-game season of 2020 was cut short by four games, leaving the Cats only six times on the field due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, although this was quite the obstacle, the Wildcats didn’t let that stop them from competing against top teams not only in the WPIAL, but in the state as well. Mongelluzzo said, “We ended up playing some of the top teams in the state, and we did really well against them because of the mindset that we had going into these games.” 

Penn Trafford, one of the top 20 in PA, was the team’s first opponent. Although the Cats suffered a loss in their first game, Mongelluzzo realized that Covid had impacted their first competitive game. He said, “We weren’t ready yet, but after this game we knew we could beat teams based on how we were able to compete.”  The team spent their time practicing harder and smarter than ever before after that game in preparation for the next.

Upper Saint Clair, who was ranked twelfth in the state, was another grueling game for the Cats. This early-season game almost acted like a determiner for the rest of their season. They didn’t get intimidated. While they only lost by a measly 8 points, the play action proved that the team was beginning to play like a unit. Mongelluzzo said, “We all came out ready to play that day. We were motivated and ready to win.”

While the two aforementioned games made a statement to the WPIALs, the biggest and closest game this season was against Woodland Hills. The Wildcats, in the Homecoming Game, were ready to take on the former state champions. Mongelluzzo said, “We truly believed going into that game that we could beat them together as a team. We were extremely motivated and ready to play.” Unfortunately the Wildcats lost by only three points, but they finished the season with a sense of pride because of their blood, sweat…and tears. 

Even with the tough competition this season, the Cats fell short of the playoffs with a record of 2-4 . Although they will be losing key senior players, the Wildcats are looking to be a promising team next season as well because of the mindset that was instilled. With backups and underclassmen coming up such as Kyle Brewer, Drake Clayton, Conner Lakin, Jacob Brisky, and Tyler Lynch, they will be able to compete just as well as before, especially if they keep that ready mindset intact during the future seasons to come.

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